Everything else will have to wait
I’m a buns girl. Nope. Not because I’m Puerto Rican. I’m not talking about the body type my Caribbean ancestors decided to engrave in my DNA (what’s up with that, by the way?!). I’m taking about literally just out of the oven soft bread buns.
Rather than loving them because of how comforting they are and all the delicious things you can tuck between its seams, I love them mostly because they are the best therapy for me. You have to focus. You just can’t ignore them. They require being the center of attention. From start to finish. You need to push to the side any thoughts climbing your mind during different intervals of time and just concentrate in everything coming together properly. Oh boy, it’s nerve racking, good nerve racking though, when your eyes are traveling circles following the hook while you hopefully wait to see in the next few minutes the first strand, then the first irregular balls of dough forming and then when suddenly everything comes up together and you see your dough become an even softer ball. Next it’s peeking at the bowl to see your baby dough growing. After it’s ready you have to concentrate on how you are stretching it. Am I breaking your gorgeous strands, baby? Finally it’s all about letting it grow, knowing you put everything you have on it and hoping it’ll take all you did and grow as you intended it to do.
I don’t know about you, but for me that was a good amount of time that I just had to think about only one thing. And even us women, with our uncanny genius to think (and do!) different things at a time, it’s nice when we find something cool that makes us think in just one thing. My mind always ends up refreshed, my fingers licked and my belly smiling. That is just until lunch, to be clear ; )
That’s why, after all the shopping for Father’s Day weekend, I decided to relax my mind and go with buns for that Sunday morning. I decided to stuff them with cherries wanting a sweet, fresh and fruity flavor. Then I thought about some chocolate chips just to make them sweeter and gooey and this was the best idea I could have. Those bites of little chips melted through the bread and the cherries were sooo delicious. If you saw my Instagram post about them, then you know I overstuffed them, on purpose, and the closure of the buns weren’t the prettiest thing. To make things smoother without taking out stuffing (because all of you wrote me you prefer overstuffed buns anytime) I chopped the cherries more so they wouldn’t create bumps while rolling the dough. As you can see, this worked perfectly.
So, do yourself a favor and make these buns. For your mind and belly’s sake!
1. Different from other buns, I let these rise overnight in the counter, not in the fridge after the typical second proofing. In the morning you’ll have super puffy leavened buns. The dough had some bubbles on top but I didn’t mind because not only were they very soft but also because I didn’t have to wait until the second proofing to put them in the fridge and could go to bed right after assembling them.
2. I add a bit of cherry preserves to add a bit of moisture to the filling.
3. I used ¼ cup of chocolate chips but I should have used more because they were perfect with the cherries. I sprinkled them through and added more on spots that were a bit empty.
4. Store the buns in an airtight container and reheat in the microwave to make them softer.
5. Remember to always stretch the dough outwards from the center.
Cherry and Chocolate Chip Buns
Total time – 2 hours plus overnightActive time – 30 minutes
Equipment – Stand up mixer with the hook attachment
Instant yeast – 1 envelope
Unbleached all purpose flour – 2 ½ cups
Raw sugar – 3 TBSP
Fine sea salt – 1 Tsp + 1 pinch
Eggs – 1
Egg yolk - 1
Full fat coconut milk, room temperature – ½ cup
Unsalted butter (organic if possible), softened and in pieces – 6 TBSP
Place the instant yeast and the flour in the bowl of a stand up mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix from 30 seconds to 1 minute to distribute the yeast evenly. Stop the mixer and add the sugar, salt, egg, egg yolk and coconut milk and mix in low speed (#2 in the Kitchenaid mixer) and mix until everything is mostly incorporated. Start adding the butter a few pieces at a time, incorporating each addition before adding more. Continue kneading for 20 minutes, until you see the dough is whole and appears even in texture. Stop the mixer and push the dough off the hook. Using your hands knead the dough for about 30 seconds more to form a ball. Transfer to a deep large bowl, cover it with plastic paper and then cover the entire bowl with a kitchen towel or throw blanket. Let it rest and grow for 1 hour in a warm place. In the meantime you can make the filling.
Fresh cherries, pitted and chopped – 2 cups
Powdered sugar – 2 cups
Cherry preserves or marmalade – ¼ cup
Cornstarch – 1 TBSP
Semi sweet chocolate chips - ⅓ cup or more
Mix the cherries with the powdered sugar. Let them rest until almost ready to stuff the buns.
Strain the juice from the cherries. Reserve the juice for the glaze and mix the cherries with the cornstarch and the preserves.
To assemble the buns
Prepare baking pan by greasing it with some butter or covering the bottom with parchment paper.
Remove the plastic paper cover from the dough bowl and deflate the dough by softly punching it one time. Transfer to a super clean flat surface dusted with some flour (also dust your rolling pin with some flour as well), then start stretching it with a rolling pin until you get an approximately 14” x 12” rectangle and the dough is about ⅛” thick(the longer side should be horizontally in front of you). Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife cut the borders to make the rectangle edges straight.
Spread the filling evenly through the dough, leaving ⅛” of the edges clear. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on the dough. Starting from the long side in front of you, pull up the dough and roll in, making sure it has a uniform rounded shape left to right, then continue rolling until you fold the dough completely. Pinch the seam with your fingers to close it, then with a sharp knife cut 1½” rolls. Arrange the rolls in the pan, leaving about ¼” of space between them. Cover the pan with plastic paper and a kitchen towel and let the rolls rest on a cool dry place overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat oven in 350°. When oven is properly heated remove the kitchen towel and plastic paper from the pan and place the buns in the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the dough seems dry and has a nice golden brown color on top. Take them out of the oven and pour over the glaze (recipe follows).
Cherry juice (from the chopped cherries) – 2 to 3 TBSP
Unsalted butter – 3 TBSP
Powdered sugar – ½ cup
Pinch of sea salt
In a small saucepan heat in medium heat the cherry juice with the butter. When the butter has melted completely retire from heat and mix in the sugar and the salt. Return to heat and mix a bit more to dissolve any lumps. Retire from heat and pour over the buns. Let them cool for about 20 minutes before serving
Powdered sugar – ½ cup
Water – 2 TBSP
Pinch of salt
Using a whisk mix all the ingredients. Drizzle over the buns for serving.